After confiscating thousands of copies of a critical independent newspaper, authorities laid siege today to the paper's offices in Aden, Yemen. The daily, Al-Ayyam, has been covering the ongoing conflict in the country's southern region.
Bashraheel Bashraheel, general manager of Al-Ayyam, told CPJ that after three consecutive days of authorities confiscating thousands of copies of the newspaper, security forces today surrounded Al-Ayyam and prevented the distribution of all 70,000
copies of the paper. Staff members are allowed to leave the building but are being searched as they exit, Bashraheel said.
We call on the authorities to end the siege of Al-Ayyam and to withdraw all its forces immediately, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator: Al-Ayyam and its staff are exercising their journalistic
duty to cover an ongoing conflict. The government must not target them because of their coverage.
Dozens of protesters gathered today in front of the besieged paper's offices to protest the government's action, with the police eventually dispersing the demonstrators, Al-Ayyam reported on its Web site.
Bashraheel told CPJ that in light of the government's actions and to curb financial losses he has been forced to suspend printing of Al-Ayyam indefinitely.
A blockade by security forces of the offices of a Yemeni newspaper, aiming to prevent distribution of copies of the paper, has entered its second week.
The action follows the confiscation by the authorities of thousands of copies of Aden-based Arabic daily al-Ayyam.
In a another development on Monday, security forces surrounded the house of Hisham Basharhail, al-Ayyam’s editor–in-chief, and notified him that he had 48 hours to hand himself over to the authorities in Sana'a.
Six other newspapers - al-Masdar, al-Watani, ad-Diyar, al-Nedaa, al-Sharea and al-Mostakela –had copies of their newspapers seized on 4 May, following a widely publicized decision by Yemen’s Director of the Press.
The government has accused all seven newspapers of expressing views favourable to the secession of the south in their coverage of protests in the southern part of the country in April.
Human rights activists in Yemen have said they are outraged by the decision to confiscate newspapers. They have said that they consider the government's action not only a serious violation of international standards but also of Yemen's own laws.
Yemeni laws allow confiscation of newspapers only through a judicial order. The Yemeni authorities carried out the confiscation without resorting to the judiciary.
The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns a raid by Yemeni security forces on the Aden compound of the country's most popular independent newspaper. One passerby was killed.
Just before noon, a group of security forces clashed with guards at the offices of Al-Ayyam, firing tear gas and bullets and wounding at least two guards and killing the passerby, according to local and international news reports. The raid is the
latest development in a series of attacks against Al-Ayyam and other independent publications and journalists in Yemen in recent weeks.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an ongoing campaign to suppress independent journalism in Yemen and urges President Ali Abdullah Saleh to immediately bring it to a halt and order the release of two detained bloggers. Also, authorities
have announced a special court to try media and publishing offenses.
One of the latest victims of the media crackdown launched nearly two weeks ago is Yahya Bamahfud, a blogger and former editor of the Hadhramaut news Web site. Security forces arrested Bamahfud on Sunday night in the city of Mukalla in the southern
governorate of Hadhramaut. They stormed his home without warrant and confiscated his computer and documents before taking him to an unknown location, local journalists told CPJ.
This is the second arrest of a blogger in Mukalla since last week. Security forces arrested Fuad Rashid, editor-in-chief of Mukalla Press Web site. He had covered recent clashes, which began on April 27 between security forces and disaffected
residents of the southern region of Yemen. The eruption of violence occurred on the eve of the 15th anniversary of a short-lived civil war that ended with the victory of northern troops.
There should not be a pre-censorship on journalism in Yemen because the measure ended when the reunification of the south and north took place in 1990, Information Minister has said.
At a conference organized by the Information Ministry at its former headquarters in Sana'a, Hasan Al-Lawzi said exercising freedom of expression must result in respecting the others' rights.
The ministry does not prevent obtaining licenses for newspapers, but some are long-processed due to necessary legal procedures, he claimed.
On halting some publications, Al-Lawzi said the papers blocked committed grave mistakes that they published anti-unity rhetoric and harmed special figures. Hence, the ministry took legal measures over violations by the newspapers under its
responsibility to protect the people and the country.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Yemeni authorities' seizure of equipment enabling the pan-Arab satellite news channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera to broadcast live from the country.
The move came after both channels had broadcast clashes between police and protesters in the southern town of Daleh, as well as rallies in the north against the crackdown. The stations can still report and transmit taped coverage.
We condemn this arbitrary seizure and ask the authorities to allow Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya to resume their live broadcasts without delay, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. To suddenly assert
that the confiscations are due to lack of authorization is not credible given than both channels have been broadcasting from Yemen for years without such a claim by authorities.
Al-Arabiya's bureau chief in Sana'a, Mahmud Munassar, told CPJ that his employees were briefly detained and questioned. He called the raid an intimidation tactic designed to silence the channel's coverage of Yemen. Al-Arabiya received the
green light from the president of the republic in 2009 to bring live broadcasting equipment into Yemen, Munassar told CPJ. The Sana'a government is clearly trying to cover up its policies in the south.
For the fifth time, Al-Masdar online, an independent local news website, was blocked by the government last Saturday , according to editor Yaser Al-Arami.
Al-Arami told the Yemen Times that the website was blocked because of its news about recent developments in Aden, Sana'a and other governorates.
Al-Arami revealed that the National Security Bureau has a department specifically tasked with monitoring Yemeni news websites.
Similarly, Al-Jazeera Arabic TV channel reported on Saturday that the Yemeni government requested that two correspondents leave the country immediately.
The channel explained that, Yemen's Deputy Minister of Information told the director of the channel office in Sana'a, Saeed Thabet, to ban the two journalists from reporting on the current protests in Yemen. He also asked them to leave the country
entirely. Al-Jazeera added that this is the second time that the Yemeni Government has attempted to ban these two journalists from covering anti-government protests that are taking place in several Yemeni cities.
Jamal An'am, chairman of the freedoms' committee at the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate told the Yemen Times that Since the anti-government protests broke out in the country, the Yemeni government launched a war against journalists in an attempt to
falsify information and history the reality of what is going on. We are worried that the regime is preparing to oppress both protesters and journalists .
About 100 journalists have protested in the Yemen capital against harassment and censorship by authorities.
The protest was held outside the Sana'a residence of the vice-president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is acting head of state while the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is in Saudi Arabia recuperating from wounds he sustained in an attack on his
The demonstration is part of wider anti-government protests that have been going on for more than four months, demanding an end to Saleh's rule.
One newspaper editor, Osama Ghaleb of al-Nass, said he was forced to distribute the daily to other provinces in banana boxes to ensure the copies would not be confiscated by security. But unfortunately this method has now been exposed, he said.
The Centre for Rehabilitation and Protection of Freedom of Press in Yemen has documented 465 cases of harassment of journalists in the past six months, which include threats, aggression, and detention. Calls by journalists to meet with the
vice-president have gone unheeded, according to the head of Yemen's journalists' syndicate, Marwan Damaj.